Manitoba

Manitoba hasn't issued high water warnings in the west, says farmer

The drowning of an 11-year-old girl in a spillway near Portage la Prairie, Man., this week may have been prevented if the provincial government had issued a public warning about high water levels in the area, says a farmer near the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border.

Public warning could have prevented drowning of 11-year-old girl this week, says Cliff Trinder

The Shellmouth Dam had water coming over the top of the spillway in the spring of 2014. (Trinder Ranch)

The drowning of an 11-year-old girl in a spillway near Portage la Prairie, Man., this week may have been prevented if the provincial government had issued a public warning about high water levels in the area, says a farmer near the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border.

Cliff Trinder said provincial flood forecasters should have issued a "blanket warning" about high water levels in drainage ditches and the Assiniboine River.

That warning, he said, could have prevented the drowning death of Jodi Hofer, who fell into a swollen spillway near the Woodland Hutterite Colony on Tuesday evening. Her body was found the next morning.

"I mean, if Mom hears it on the radio they just tell the kids, 'Look, all the drainage ditches are high. Stay away from them," Trinder said in an interview.

Hofer was trying to cross the spillway with another girl when she fell in, her aunt told CBC News. There was a concrete bridge over the spillway but it was under water at the time, the relative added.

Saskatchewan's Water Security Agency issued an advisory about rising water levels in the province's east last week, advising communities along the Assiniboine River Basin that they may see increased water levels as warm temperatures was expected to quickly melt snow in the area.

That water is heading toward Manitoba, said Trinder, who farms south of Shellmouth dam between Russell and Binscarth, Man. He also sits on the province's advisory committee for the dam.

He said he's worried that up to 50,000 acres of farmland from the dam to Brandon are at risk of flooding.

"And Manitoba still has not even issued an alert. Why?" he said.

"It seems that every time we get into a flood situation up here, it's like pulling teeth out of these people to even put out a warning to the local people that flooding is existing, is imminent."

Trinder said his farm property was completely flooded in 2011, 2012 and 2014, and it was partially flooded last year. This year, he hopes to have a crop.

The provincial government is expected to release information on Thursday about high water levels in the west.

With files from the CBC's Susan Magas

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